Hi Kim, tell me about TrueBlue.
TrueBlue is a consulting company that puts people to work in a range of different roles. We have different lines of business dispersed across the United States and Europe.
Ok, thank you for that. And tell me about your time at the company.
I started out as an engineer managing Office 365 Exchange. It was actually just Exchange at the time, and then I got into the cloud with Office 365 before I took over as manager of the Engineering team. Now I am the IT Operations Manager. I manage the Systems Administration team. And I also recently took over the hardware team. So, I do both.
Thank you. Ok. So, give me an idea of why you first started looking into service alternatives for Microsoft Premier support?
Ok, well, previously we’d have to contact Microsoft for Exchange issues. It was one of the biggest calls that we would have to make, and it felt like every time we made a call, they were delayed on getting back to us.
They were bouncing us between teams within Microsoft. I can actually remember the last case we had probably took them three months to resolve, and we bounced between the Exchange Team and the Active Directory Team at least three or four times. There was no real handoff. It was just, you know, the ticket went over and you’d have to explain the entire problem over and over again to the next engineer.
Wow, a lot of time there.
Extremely time delayed, and in situations where we needed resolution. We’d call in a Sev 1and the SLA was late by about 2 hours. In most cases they just could never meet the SLA’s. It just was never a good experience, calling Microsoft going over some of the basics that, you know, as an engineer, they should understand as a Tier 1 engineer. In most cases I would try to just escalate right away because the Tier 1s just didn’t help us out.
OK, so your concerns really focus on the service aspect of it, were you also focused on the pricing?
I wasn’t because it wasn’t necessarily my role, but the company did. Which is one of the other reasons why we dropped them (because they tripled our price on Premier Support).
That’ll do it.
Right. We ended up dropping support when it was a terrible experience overall anyway, so why would we pay three times the amount for it?
Ok, so you were focused on service and purchasing on price. So, who was driving the bus while making the switch? Was the purchasing team doing it?
Well, the initial discussion came from the purchasing team just from the budgetary standpoint. Then, once the idea was put in place, I was fully on board with trying to find a vendor to give us better service than Microsoft.
Got it. What were some of the key questions that you wanted answered, to put yourself at ease about moving from the OEM?
What were the SLAs, and were they being met? I wanted to talk to people that use the service to get a non-biased opinion. How were tickets handed off? Did the initial technicians do a smooth handoff or, you know, did the tickets bounce between departments like they did at Microsoft? That was one of the biggest things right there. Bouncing tickets.
Did you do a reference call?
I did, yes. That was very helpful.
Anything else you think that bears mention?
Being able to talk to the technicians and working with them from the beginning. And one of the other things, too, was that everything’s based on hours, so we could get training out of our hours. It’s nice to know that we don’t have to go spend additional money if we just need some assistance and training.
We just did a security assessment on our Office 365 platform that just came out of our hours. So, things like that, it’s just definitely been a benefit with the switch to US Cloud.
You mentioned the hour-based approach. What is your team’s strategy for using break/fix hours verse pro-active hours?
We have an allotment of hours and what we’ve done is, anytime anyone outside of my team needs a ticket opened, they typically come to us and ask us to open it. Then, towards the end of the year we’ll break it down to ‘ok, well, we could do some training here’. ‘We could use an assessment on this’ or ‘this project is coming up’ or ‘we could start using some hours to get assistance with the architecture or the design of a specific project’ that we may have coming up.
We purchase a good allotment of hours that we know we’re never going to fulfill for break/fix. But we’ve been able to use those hours in many cases on other project work.
Got it, well, thank you for your time. That’s all the questions that I have. Any last recommendations you would make to someone considering making the switch from Unified to US Cloud?
Get those customer referrals. I did one. But for us, the number one thing is having a TAM that you can reach out to anytime. That has been super helpful. Microsoft got rid of that for those that don’t want to pay a lot of money. Having that TAM has been super helpful with US Cloud.